The focus on physical – physical health, physical wellbeing, and physical attributes – has always taken precedence over mental health topics. However, a person’s mental wellbeing can completely affect their physical health, their social life and so much more. Just ask licensed clinical social worker and founder of Renew Wellness & Psychotherapy, Natalie Asayag, “Mental wellbeing is dependent upon one’s mental health. If someone is struggling with an unmanaged mental disorder or illness, one’s mental wellbeing is at risk, which then affects all areas of a person’s life.” And, with a person’s life changing minute by minute and day by day, it is really important to focus more on one’s mental health.
“A strong, healthy sense of mental wellbeing allows a person to experience the world from a place of healthy self worth, as opposed to an experienced state of anxiety, depression and reactivity,” explained Asayag.
Since today is World Mental Health Day, our wish is that you take the time to focus on your mental wellbeing. Also, we - along with help from Ms. Asayag - want to give you ideas to help you keep mentally well and develop your ability to cope with the up and downs of life.
We are all different. We all have different “triggers” in our lives that affect our wellbeing. Death of a loved one, relationship issues, and loneliness are common life events that can cause our wellbeing to sink. Issues at work can also cause serious stress. “It’s amazing how a person’s workplace can affect their wellbeing. There are so many layers to the working experience … they all play major roles in satisfaction and fulfillment. Each piece is such an important component and if even one becomes challenging, the entire experience can become hard,” states Asayag.
There are other factors that can also cause poor mental wellbeing:
No matter what causes a person’s poor mental wellbeing, it’s important to find ways to help boost that self esteem and know that everyone is worth feeling good.
Making connections gives us all a sense of belonging. Positive connections are ones that help build up our self esteem and boost our mental wellbeing. First and foremost, it’s important to create time for and keep strong connections with loved ones.
As Asayag confirms, “Fortunately, I have a very supportive partner who genuinely cares about my wellbeing. My husband is also helpful in keeping me in check when he sees me working too much, at those times when I haven’t quite tuned into it.” And those loved ones don’t have to be adult companions. Asayag discusses how time with her child empowers her mental wellbeing, “Two days a week I am home with my toddler, and I find this very fulfilling. I absolutely love sharing this time with him, as it has taught me to be present and appreciate fleeting moments. Becoming a mother has also taught me that it’s okay to feel challenged and have hard days – it’s part of the human experience and richens my life.”
Other ways of creating positive connections include joining groups, volunteering and engaging with good friends. Whether you have a large circle of friends or just a few close ones, having people you trust and can confide in is key to feeling good. “Making time to nurture my friendships, old and new, is also of great importance to me,” says Asayag
Asayag offers her sage advice about taking quality care of yourself:
"As a therapist, I’ve learned how to be an introspective person, which has been immensely helpful in understanding my thoughts and emotions, as well as allowing myself permission and space for them in my life. I love my alone time. I’ve always really appreciated time to myself and in a busy house, I appreciate it more than ever to reconnect and recharge."
"It is so important for everyone to pay attention to their needs and allow themselves space for self-care. There is a misconception that self-care is expensive or requires a lot of time. Self-care actually comes down to being mindful of how you feel nurtured and fulfilled. This means drawing your boundaries (which holds different definitions for different people and situations), with people and events. It may mean mindfully lighting a candle or incense while you’re cleaning or throwing a frozen pizza in the oven. It could mean speaking to yourself in a kinder manner (we can all do this!). It could mean taking one minute for deep breathing in the morning and in the evening. It could mean journaling. It could mean you stop weighing yourself or paying attention to the size of your clothes. It could mean going to bed at a decent hour. It could mean making routine doctor appointments and reaching out to a therapist for support. Ultimately, it means paying attention to your needs and emotional wellbeing."
Taking care of your body can help to keep you mentally well. It’s another way to take time for yourself and be good to yourself. It doesn’t mean exercising because you feel you have to, it means finding something to do physically that makes you happy and feel good – anything that gets you moving.
What you put in your body also affects your mental health. Eating well and at the right times is important. And, of course, drinking alcohol in moderation and not abusing drugs is key to helping control your mental wellbeing.
Sleep is one of the best ways to help improve mental health. A pattern of quality sleep – at the same time every night – can help recharge and reboot your body and mind.
Clearly, keeping our mental wellbeing in check is the most important component to good mental health. However, sometimes a person may discover that they need more help. “If someone is mindfully engaging in self-care practices and is still experiencing a fair amount of stress, irritability, anxiety, lows, eating disturbances, trouble connecting with others or maintaining a relationship, it’s important to seek therapy,” claims Asayag.
“As a therapist, I’m a major proponent of therapy! It is such a lovely tool to help people connect to themselves in a way they likely never thought possible, regardless of whether a diagnosable illness is present.” Asayag goes on to explain that therapy helps people to connect with their emotions and educate themselves on their personal needs.
Ms. Asayag eloquently explains how emotions are necessary and good:
Emotions are an intrinsic part of who we are as humans. If we consider emotions to be a weakness, we are rejecting ourselves at our core. If you are experiencing a challenging emotion (depression, anxiety, grief, guilt, shame, anger, etc.), allow yourself to listen to what it’s communicating to you. Evading an emotion is a bandaid – you have to build the courage to sit with the emotion to authentically connect with yourself and your needs. This is a powerful and necessary way to build a healthy mental wellbeing.
Here, at Daya, we hope you have a happy and healthy World Mental Health Day and a continued happy and healthy life!
Natalie Asayag is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and the founder and co-owner of Renew Wellness & Psychotherapy, LLC, a progressive boutique therapy practice located in Pennsylvania. She has experience working in a variety of settings, including in a women’s state prison, women’s center, nonprofit family center, early childhood public school, as well as providing in-home therapy. Currently, much of her work centers around helping individuals suffering with eating disorders, body image, anxiety, depression, as well as a range of other concerns. For more information, Asayag recommends The National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI) as a great resource to more formally educate one’s self on mental illness.